The scandal over the alleged payments for Prime Minister Sanna Marin's breakfasts with public money climbed several notches on Friday.
The Helsinki Police Department issued a press release after 11:00 am reporting the opening of a preliminary investigation into the case.
According to the police statement, the police have received "a request for an investigation into the matter", based on information known through the Finnish press, which reported an alleged misuse of public funds to pay meals to the prime minister.
The Finnish newspaper Iltalehti unveiled last Tuesday payments of 300 euros a month with taxpayers' money for the breakfast of Marin and her family at the official residence of Kesäranta. The Finnish tax administration considers meal payments or benefits as payments in kind that should be subject to taxation.
"The police decided that at least a preliminary investigation should be carried out on the matter," the police statement read.
This preliminary investigation will try to clarify whether there is reason to suspect that someone has committed a crime in the event that said payments did indeed occur.
Sanna Marin not investigated
The police also say in its statement that the Act on Ministers' Salaries and Allowances, in principle, does not seem to contemplate food payments, at least in its literal wording.
The police officer in charge of the preliminary investigation, Teemu Jokinen, "emphasizes" in the statement that the subject of the investigation is not the Prime Minister herself, but the procedures of other officials in the Prime Minister's Office.
En ole pääministerinä pyytänyt ateriaetua tai osallistunut asiasta päättämiseen. Kun olen aloittanut tehtävässä, minulle on kerrottu, että tämä sisältyy Kesärannassa asumiseen ja yöpymiseen, ja että näin on toimittu myös aiempien pääministerien osalta.— Sanna Marin (@MarinSanna) May 28, 2021
Olen eilen pyytänyt, että kaikki tähän liittyvät hankinnat keskeytetään, kunnes asiaan saadaan selvyys.— Sanna Marin (@MarinSanna) May 28, 2021
Shortly after the news hit the front pages of digital media, Marin defended herself on Twitter saying that as prime minister she never asked for any food benefits or participated in the decisions.
In a tweet thread, the prime minister said that she never made the purchases, but that they were all made by workers from the Prime Minister's Office.
She also said that she has ordered that such proceedings be suspended until the matter is clarified.